Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Bonfire night 17 October 2013 Photo: Daniel Sherwood

Bonfire Night 2013

Bonfire Night 2013 Photos: Daniel Sherwood

I hadn’t realised,  until I read the programme issued by the Hastings Borough Bonfire Society, that all this November 5th junketing derives from James I’s decree in 1605 that the foiling of Catesby’s plot to blow up Parliament was to be celebrated annually for ever after.  Why the good people of Sussex in particular, should have taken it up with such alacrity, and still use the occasion each year for torchlight processions, bonfires and fireworks, still remains a mystery, writes Antony Mair.

Bonfire night 17 October 2013 Photo: Daniel Sherwood

Hastings, of course, is not the same as elsewhere, and instead of the November 5th date the townsfolk have chosen to junket at the end of Hastings Week – thus linking the commemoration of the famous battle of 1066 with that of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605.  It’s always struck me as a bit curious that the Hastings

Bonfire night 17 October 2013 Photo: Daniel Sherwood

population should celebrate the 1066 battle – it’s rather as if the locals of Waterloo had annual festivities to celebrate a foreign victory.  The Gunpowder Plot was another matter – if you were a Protestant, that is.  And anyway, if the king tells you to have a party, who’s going to protest?

Bonfire night 17 October 2013 Photo: Daniel Sherwood

So each year at the end of Hastings Week we have the torchlight procession round the town, in which a panoply of bonfire societies parade in full fig to the sound of many drums.  It’s an eerie occasion, because of the dark and the torchlight and the strange outfits of the various societies.  Skulls and

Burgess Hill 'Aztecs' photo: Antony Mair

Victorian undertaker costumes and strange face-paint abounded last night.  Most curious of all were the members of the Burgess Hill Bonfire Society, who were dressed like Aztec Indians.  Not sure what that was about, but it added a touch of the exotic.
We’d been kindly invited to a party in a flat in Pelham Place, right opposite the fireworks on the front.  The display was pretty amazing.   James I would have been proud of it, I’m sure.

Republished with kind permission from Postcards from Hastings.

Pictures from Daniel Sherwood, who is currently on his second year of an HND Photography course at Sussex Coast College Hastings. These pictures were taken by Daniel in the High Street of the Old Town and at the seafront.

For more of the same, see his blog.

Also for more beautiful pictures of Bonfire Night, see Sandra Harma’s Cats’Eyes


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Posted 10:09 Monday, Oct 21, 2013 In: Hastings People

1 Comment

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  1. Chris Cormack

    Kev Young (Green Wyvern) via
    10:52 (5 minutes ago)
    From: Kev Young (Green Wyvern)

    Hi, I think Antony needs to look at this as well.


    Comment by Chris Cormack — Thursday, Oct 24, 2013 @ 19:02

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